tv FCC Commissioners Testify on FY 2018 Budget CSPAN June 20, 2017 2:32pm-3:59pm EDT
i think we'll go ahead and start. my ranking member, senator coons will be here. thank you all for being here this afternoon. i appreciate it. commissioner pai, personally i'd like to thank you for your comments last week about the tone of civility we need to strike. i think you'll find that here in this subcommittee.
i thank you for that. today marks the first hearing in the financial service and general government subcommittee for the 115th congress. this is also my first hearing in my new role as the chair woman of this subcommittee and i'm honored to be serving. as we begin the important review of the budget request of the fcc we welcome our witnesses. fcc chairman ajit pai and commissioner clyburn and michael o'reilly. we look forward to hearing from you all about the fcc's budget requests and the work you're doing to carry out the aenlsgen mission. the commission has requested a total of $322 million. the fcc's funding is offset by fees that does not minimize our duty to insure that the agency is operating effectively, and that the funds are being spent responsibly. this is especially important since the fees are passed on to the consumer.
the impact is critical in rural america. communities in my state of west virginia have been hard hit by job loss. and decline and creating a major drag on the state's economy and our quality of life. two of our commissioners here have been in west virginia first-hand to witness this. one of my top priorities has been to promote policies for new investments and boost economic growth. broadband access can provide west virginiaens with opportunities that lead to new jobs, higher wages and providing that momentum that our state's economy needs. potential investors need to see that west virginia and its workforce is open for business and ready to work in the 21st century economy. according to the fcc, more than 30 million americans lack access to high speed broad band internet. including a disproportionate number of rural communities. we just had a hearing that reflected some of that. without the connectivity the communities struggle to compete in today's internet based world. in 2015, i launched my connect
plan, jump starting a state wide conversation about the need to connect our state. broad band should be easily available and affordable. it's that simple and at the federal level we've been trying to make this a reality. the benefits of broad band access are numerous but too many parts of rural america cannot attract the investment they need to get online. despite significant federal and private funding, west virginia is less connected than nearly every other state. we've been ham strung and we fail to maximize our existing resources. communities like thomas and davis in tucker county or the white water resorts need broad band to capture the tourism economy. they can attract the technology based workforce that simply needs a computer to reach clients around the globe. in order to help these
communities, we must equip them with tools to succeed. that's why i introduced legislation to accelerate the development of high speed internet and low income communities. the gigabyte act encourages these communities. by empowering governor and states to direct investments to areas with the greatest need, this insures communities with the highest potential for economic development are prioritiz prioritized. it eliminates barriers to new investment in brandbou band infrastructure. under the go act, the fcc is directed to release a framework to streamline broad band laws throutt th throughout the state. this will eliminate the myriad laws that currently exist in all states. once adopted the governors would be able to nominate a portion of their state's low income areas as gigabyte opportunity zones. businesses that invest in these zones or make upgrades to speed up the networks would benefit
from incentives. internet access should be broadly available regardless of whether you live in a small town or big city and this connectivity is essential to growing our nation's economy and in particular west virginia's economy. with all the focus on rural america, now is the time to level the playing field. and close that digital divide. so i will let mr. coons have his opening statement. i'm going to turn to our witnesses and chairman pai i'll ask you to begin with your testimony. >> thank you for holding this hearing. i want to recognize ranking member coons and all members of the subcommittee for have us here today. i want to note the participation of my two distinguished colleagues at today's hearing. it is a privilege to serve alongside each of them as we strive to meet the public interest frmpt fiscal year 2018 we have developed a carefully
crafted budget requesting $322 million. that is 5.2% below the prior fiscal years on directed spending level of approximately $339 million. we also won't need any directed move or restacking funds which amounted to $44 million and $16.9 million in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 respectively. in addition, we propose to reduce our spectrum auction cap from $117 million to approximately $111 million. this would enable us to transfer approximately $6 million more to the treasury. we can all agree that budget reductions don't come easily. we'll face the same challenges as other agencies in doing more with less. people making budget cuts while maintaining services means rolling up our sleeves and rethinking how the commission does business. in the past the fcc chairmen have emphasized that we're an entirely fee funded agency.
it's important to remember that someone is paying our freight. that someone includes small businesses, individual licens s licensees. it is imperative for the fcc to be fiscally responsible and to avoid unnecessary spending. and i firmly believe if we refrain from regulatory overreach we'll realize additional cost savings as well as more economic growth. results that benefit everyone. while we've experienced staffing reductions over the past several years, administrativeficiencies and better i-t. have insured that the fcc remains productive. for example, this year, with 100 fewer staff than last year, we have already managed to pursue an aggressive schedule for our open meetings where commissioners consider the highest profile matters. indeed, in 2017 we are averaging more than double the number of items per meeting than we considered last year. 5.83 versus 2.58.
i expect this increase productivity to continue into 2018. since i became chairman in january, we have been aggressive and looking for cost savings. and our staff has already identified substantial reductions. like closing our offsite warehouse and improving our internal mail services for an projected annual saving of $851,000. it will save another $280,000 by reducing the number of on site printers and copy machines. now as we move into fiscal year 2018, we will focus the fcc's resources on advancing the four strategic goals that were outlined in our budget request. first and foremost, consistent with your comments we will concentrate on closing the digital divide. among other things we'll implement the connect america fund phase two and mobility fun phase two reverse auctions to bring fixed broadband to more of rural america. these are complicated tasks to be sure but our rural broad band actions task force has a solid
plan for getting the job done. if i may say, on a personal note, i appreciate your initiative in introducing the go act. this will be a substantial effort. i thank you for your leadership in that regard. second we will work to promote integration to insure american leadership to authorizing television broadcasters to use the next generation television standard. we'll move full speed ahead on implementing the spectrum pipeline act to get more air waves into the commercial marketplace. we'll concentrate on protecting consumer and public safety. from combatting illegal robo calls to improving relay service for deaf and hard of hearing americans, we will continue to pursue an aggressive agenda. we will continue to support those on the front lines who protect all of us each and every day. and fourth and finally we'll focus on refining the fcc's
processes. the american people deserve to have a responsive regulator. we had made substantial progress like making public commission items at least three weeks before we vote on them. there is much more to do it and do it we will. looking ahead to next fiscal year i'm excited about how the fcc can bring digital opportunity to more americans. promote technological innovation, protect the american people and improve our agency's operations. i believe this request will help us to advance these goals in a fiscally responsible way. thank you for this opportunity to discuss the fcc's budget proposal. i'll be pleased to answer any questions you or the members might have and look forward to working with you in the future. >> thank you, now i would like to turn to commissioner clyburn and ask for her to present her testimony. thank you. >> let's try that again. chairwoman, ranking member coons and members of the subcommittee,
good afternoon. it's my distinct pleasure to appear before you to offer my perspective on the fcc's fiscal year 2018 budget request. yesterday marked the fcc's 83rd anniversary. and while much has changed since 1934, our responsibility went it comes to protecting consumers, advancing competition, and insuring the reliability and resiliency of public safety communications remains unchanged. to achieve these goals, the fcc needs a fully staffed workforce. however, the agency finds itself with the fewer number of fte's in more than 30 years. and in some cases, this has created much neededficiencies. in others, it's required employees to double up on responsibilities with little or no pay increase. this not only puts at risk the quality of the final work product, it also has a direct
impact on work-life balance. to put this assertion into perspective, each year the federal employee viewpoint survey asks fcc employees whether they agree or disagree they have sufficient resources to get their job done. in 2011, just over 30% of fcc employees disagreed with this statement. by 2016, that figure had risen to nearly 38%. so additional budget and staffing cuts will likely lead to this number increasing even further in the coming years. furthermore, while not unique to the fcc, an increasing number of federal employees are eligible for retirement. today, there are 362 fcc employees that are retirement eligible, equaling roughly 23% of our workforce. in practice, 124 employees have already departed the agency this
year, and this figure is only expected to increase. some will retire, while others will leave for new job opportunities. so while we have no choice but to think about a future which recruits and retains the next generation's best and brightest we must do so. and do so we will. you may have heard me speak about the need for better broad band data in part because i have heard from far too many communities that take issue with the fcc's figures. they said that where our data shows there is fixed or mobile broadband coverage that in actuality the coverage racnges for spotty to non-existent. it should not be this difficult for us to have accurate data down to sthe street level. we know it helps us to better target our infrastructure efforts and improve the accuracy of our national broad band map.
i'm a strong believer in the power of broad band to tackle some of our nation's greatest challenges, particularly when it comes to healthcare. thanks to the work of the fcc's connect the health task force we have a clearer picture of where the greatest needs exist. the chairman has committed to carrying on the work of the task force and i am hopeful that through a sustained investment in this initiative, it will continue to fuel and inform us when it comes to broadband policy and investment for and in rural and underserved communities. as the subcommittee prepares its appropriations bill for fiscal year '18, i am also hopeful that i.t. infrastructure will be top of mind. modern i.t. infrastructure should be able to handle a few hundred thousand public comments without grinding to a halt. and to demonstrate the agency's commitment to modernization and cybersecurity, future budget requests should include a
dedicated subaccount, supporting these critical needs. finally, i would like to talk about the agency's spectrum auctions program. despite several auctions currently in development and more in the pipeline, the commission's budget request would cut $5.8 million from the program. our auctions produce a tremendous return on investment and are a win-win for consumers, industry, and the federal government. with 5 g on the horizon, we need to look long term and focus on how we will provide funding necessary to administer timely and efficiently run actions. it will help unlock the next generation of wireless broad band and insure that america remains a leader in wireless innovation. returning to the commission's central mission, it is a point of great disappointment to me that this fcc is on the track to dismantle many of the key rules
involving consumer protections and competition. is this a prelude to the commission that ultimately allows large companies to exist in a regulatory-free zone? i ask this because the american people count on the fcc to be the referee on the field. insuring that our nation's communications providers play by the rules and consumers have a chance to be on the in winning team. but only if this agency calls the right plays will it be able to say it is truly putting consumers first. i'd like to thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to testify today. i look forward to answering any questions you may have of me. >> thank you, commissioner clyburn. now i would like to turn it over to commissioner o'reilly. welcome. >> chairman, ranking member, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. i commend fcc chairman pai for preparing the budget request present before the subcommittee. in particular, i appreciate the chairman's effort to trim the budget in terms of overall
funding and personnel compared to the fy '17 budget submission and final appropriations level. these are difficult decisions to make i'm sure, changes as those outlined in the submission can be made without undermining the ability of the commission to execute its mission. if i could suggest one area where additional resources may be justified, it would be support for further work on the commission's universal service fund within the wire link competition bureau. on another note what appears to be a decision to relocate the headquarters is final, i think the move will have a negative impact on the agency. i know of several professionals who will choose to leave the commission rather than transfer to the new location. in terms of the commission's structure i would argue we maintain out dated bureau and divisioned based on bygone eras. they retain silos that predate the invention of the internet and that radical conversions that's occurred since then.
accordingly, i would humbly suggest this subcommittee consider requesting the commission to repair transformative plans for the agency's structure. while this hearing is focused o prepare transformative plans for the agency structure. while the hearing is focused on the commission's fy-2018 budget it seems appropriate to raise policy issues before the commission for purposes of updating the committee. first, it's a top commission priority to make broadband available to as many americans as possible. in addition to the two items discussed in the budget, the commission completed reform for the rate of return regulations last year. the bipartisan effort supported then and now by the affected industry will allocate $2 billion over the next two years for the rate of return carriers so this can expand service sfs to consumers. i would would be remiss if i didn't address my project,
r.a.f.t. part and parcel of reforming our mechanism, the commission is reviewing preparing to remove the major barriers to broadband imposed by state, local and tribal governments, activities that delay and deny network build, replicated throughout our nation. and cannot be allowed to continue if we're to ever make broadband availability as universal as possible. despite the best efforts over the last years trying to coax states not to divert necessary fees collected for 911 purposes, the commission identified that in 2016, eight states and a u.s. territory continue that practice. while i've outlined a few ways for the commission to push states to stop this, the committee maintains the ability to commission billions of dollars and grants in funding provided to states which could serve as a great course corrector. for many reasons the commission has allowed individuals to illegally set up shop in the
middle of radio bands. thankfully the commission is preparing to take a different track towards these illegal operators. but the subcommittee's endorsement will be welcome as we set forth to end this practice. thank you for the opportunity to be before you today, and i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you, commissioner o'rielly. i want to turn to senator kunitz for an opening statement. welcome to our first meeting together. >> thank you for being gracious about me making a later opening. i want to thank the kbir commission for being present. this is our first hearing, your role as chairwoman, i look forward to working with you on a number of issues we have in front of us and i welcome chairman pai, well known to all of us and commissioner clyburn and commissioner o'rielly. i welcome the opportunity together to examine the fcc's budget request and discuss your role in insuring that national
communications remains reliable, effective, efficient and innovative, the proposal is 5% below the current operating level of $340 million. the fcc budget has been frozen since 200 forcing it to find savings in a variety of ways in order to meet necessary increases, inflation in staff raises. these events have been in some cases through productive means, eliminating waste and duplication. i'm concerned there are no more easy efficiencies to be found and it may end up affecting the heart of the fcc's commission. these staff cuts will result in the lowest staffing levels on record for the agency. so i look forward to hearing from the witnesses about how this indiscriminate means of achieving this reduction will be accomplished without impacting the core mission of the agency. i think there's positive news, in that we share enthusiasm for
improving broadband access. and the $10 billion universal service fund administered by the fcc. expands access to vital communications necessary in our modern age. i was pleased to hear from chairman pai about progress on the mobility 2 funding, the connect america fund to provide significant funding for lte and broadband service. i look forward to working with the chairman with that as well. i will discuss my concerns about reversal in policy direction around net neutrality and consumer privacy protections for internet data, chairman pai has only led the fcc for a few months you've made significant progress on a few fronts. it's my hope that we can also work together to find ways to protect consumers, and to address the fundamental issues around net neutrality. that are concerned to a lot of my constituents as well as to our country as a whole. thank you for sharing your perspectives about the fcc's funding requirements and program
goals and thank you, chairman, mccafferty for your leadership. >> thank you. and i notice that the ranking member of the full committee has entered room. i wanted to extend an opportunity if he would like to say a few words. >> thank you, and chairwoman and my friend from west virginia. and of course, my friend from delaware, senator kuntz. i did want to raise a question on net neutrality. i looked at the trump budget proposal, that cuts funding for the fcc's core budget by 5%. this may pale in comparison with the drastic cuts proposed for our other agencies. but it's significant for an agency whose budget basically flat-funded for years. perhaps it's reflective of an agency, the administration
walking away from some of its core responsibilities. and no area do we see that more than net neutrality. and broadband privacy protections. this is something i hear every single time i go home. at the airport, i hear it going to the grocery store. coming out, church on sunday, i hear it everywhere. in fact, nearly four million americans, four million, unprecedented number, calling the fcc to preserve the internet as a free and open platform for all. i held a hearing in vermont, small businesses and large businesses, they all said the same thing -- they want it strong, meaningful rules to protect consumers and small businesses, and start-ups. they want rules to protect the internet as an open forum for commerce, ideas and expressions. i held a judiciary field
committee in burlington, have the. small businesses told me about why these rules are so important. don't want any special treatment. they simply want assurance that the internet remain an equal playing field. so they can use the internet to expand their businesses beyond the vermont border, without fear of prohibitive fees, of being squeezed out, especially in internet fast havens. one very large company started as a very small company. said they don't want special preference. don't want to be in a position where small companies can get squeezed out by big companies that can afford it. they said otherwise you're never going to see a small company start-up again like them. now the fcc's landmark open internet rules reflected the concerns of these small businesses. and millions of americans. the rules banned pay to play
deals, which would stifle innovation. the rules in the fcc's landmark opener rules. ensures that the internet remains an open an dynamic platform for free speech. but chairman pai, immediately after president trump appoint pointed you, the fcc suddenly did an about-face. i mean it just -- almost hear the tire squeals, as it spun around. chairman pai, your actions to gut the open internet rule appears to further only one cause -- to insure that large corporations maximize profits at the expense of hard-working americans. and small businesses. so the small business many of us have in our states. i'm troubled, i am very troubled, chairman pai, that under your leadership, the fcc has turned from an agency to insure competition in the marketplace, to one that said, that's been co-opted by moneyed
interests and big businesses that could squeeze out competition. so i hope you'll reconsider your ill-advised decision to undermine open internet rules. undermining net neutrality protections harms consumers. now i'll close with this. in the past few months, we've seen efforts to undermine important consumer protections. not only from within the fcc, but also from congress. and i remain disappointed, but sadly, not surprised. that many in the republican leadership and president trump have teamed up to side with corporate interests over consumers when they roll back common-sense broadband privacy and protections. i would urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, you have a lot of small businesses, a lot of start-ups. they're going to be just killed by this. if corporate interests are placed above the interests of
consumers, hard-working americans, that's unacceptable. america deserves better. madam chair, i'll place my full statement in the record. >> thank you, senator leahy. at this time each senator will do five minutes of questioning per round and i'll begin the questioning. my first question, chairman pai is about something that was alluded to in your statement, but also in commissioner o'rielly's statement about helping states figure out the best way to deploy broadband, eliminate some of the barriers and i know that you've, this is something you've been working on. could you give me a quick status on where you are on that? and i would like to say my state of west virginia just did pass the semi controversial broadband expansion bill, which i'm very proud the governor signed. >> thanks for your question. madam chairwoman, we've taken aggressive steps to work with states to make sthur that we put broadband deployment front and
center at all levels of government. soon after i was set up as chairman, i set up the broadband deployment advisory committee. one subgroup of which is devoted to working with states, helping to find a model code so states can an approved off-the-shelf set of guidelines to help promote deployment. at some of the stewardship of our universal service funds, we've worked with states to make sure that every dollar that's spent is spent wisely on unserved areas and i met with a number of state officials -- >> one state that's doing it really well? >> there are a number of them. with tennessee i've had a chance to learn about how they migrated next-generation 911. i've work well with governor cuomo in new york state to connect america fund to serve underserved americans. every state shares that interest. they might have just different challenges and different ways of getting there. >> turning to the budget or
comments that both commissioner clyburn and commissioner o'rielly made. i want to give you a chance to respond or anybody, really. but first, your thoughts, since you didn't address it in your opening statements, on possible agency structure, losing fte's, 5% shrinkage in the budget. how do you see that in terms of your ability to get your job done? >> a few different points. first, obviously the office of management and budget offered government-wide guidance and we crafted a budget consist wnt that guidance. we wanted to make sure we had our eyes on the prize to make sure that the fcc discharges its core responsibilities. even if the staffing level might be lower. and that's why, for instance, despite the fact that we have fewer staffers, we've been able to focus on doubling the output with respect to our meeting items, where we consider the highest profile issues. in the first month we got across the finish line in a bipartisan
way, reform america program to make sure that fixed broadband and 4 lte reaches all americansen and make sure we use the assets we've got in the most effective way. in the first speech i gave on this topic, i proposed the creation of an office of economics and data. i found that the fcc unlike the ftc or the s.e.c., our economists are sprinkled throughout the various bureaus and offices. some are busy and some aren't. i thought if the lawyers have an office of general counsel, if the engineers have an office of engineering technology, what if we centralize the economic function, we consolidate all the economists in one office that would allow us to deploy resources more effectively. attract economists to the agency and would give them sort of an academic environment to consider bigger-picture things. to write white papers have generated some of the most-in innovative ideas that the fcc has. we're doing our best to meet
those core objectives within the constraints presented to us. >> we've talked about this in terms of coordination between the fcc, the ntia and rus, resources for broadband deployment. we have some issues in our state with the initial stimulus package and the deployment of those funds as well. what are you seeing in terms of coordination with the fcc here in is this an area of strength? or things that need to be worked on? >> i think both. to be honest with you. we have a federal-state joint board initiative of framework where we're constantly in contact with our state counterparts about how we can do and how we can build you know better relationships. the chairman is right to point out his v-dap, that was started, gives a blueprint or a means for people to weigh in. we'll also say, however that
there's only one local representative on v-d.a.t. as it stands now and i i'm hoping that we'll continue to work with local authorities, work with companies, work with us and come up with maybe an infrastructure consortium that will better and in a more streamlined and targeted way, really get everybody's voices at the table. come with a collaborative framework and really do what we, that you and i want. that's to connect america. i think that there are better ways we can do it. only through a concerted effort and by concentrating on what our goals and objectives are and listening to state and local voices will that happen. >> thank you. senator koontz. >> commissioner pai, an opening concern, there's a widespread concern that the administration has been choosing not to respond to requests for information from
democrats, which counters a longstanding tradition of held by both parties, on how to federal agencies respond to questions. will you commit to responding to all questions that come to you from members of congress in. >> thank you for the question, senator. absolutely. i have done so during my tenure as chairman and i will do so going forward. >> consumer privacy is a topic of real concern to me. on april 3rd president trump signed into law a new enactment that nullified the fcc's previous rules that provided some movement on protection for consumer internet privacy. as we discussed, you believe it's the federal trade commission's core challenge, but currently outside their jurisdiction, so the ftc can't currently provide that protection. what privacy protections are currently in place and who's enforcing them? do you think there should be privacy protections for consumer privacy on the internet? and how do we achieve a restoration of or a move towards a place where there are robust privacy protections for consumers? >> thank you for the question, i
appreciate the concern as well as the courtesy you extended to me yesterday. i think the baseline expectation of every consumer and thus i think every regulator and elected official should be uniform expectation that sensitive information will be protected whenever consumer goes online. prior to 2015 the federal trade commission was the cop on the beat. applied a decisiconsistent priv framework. after 2015 when the ftc deem ee telecommunications carriers to be. the only thing that applies is section 222 of the communications act. section c-1 of which applies the requirements to telecommunications carriers. the ftc's rules have never gone into effect. so in 2015 we had to figure out how to go forward. we established some guidance based on our enforcement bureau. which provided guidance to the
industry. think going forward we want to make shoor we protect consumers and work with the federal trade commission to make sure that regardless of what agency is handling the issue, we need to make sure that consumers are protected consistently. >> do you think it's clear now who's responsible and who's got jurisdiction? or do you think there's additional action that needs to be taken in order to provide robust protection? >> currently the fcc does have jurisdiction over fed trade providers. so that's why i've committed to working with members of the federal trade commission to make sure we have a consistent framework that protects consumers whenever they go online. >> the other area we discussed is net neutrality. when the fcc first proposed a net neutrality rule, a record-breaking number of americans filed comments. it crashed the fcc . it crashed my phone system.
and that just indicates there's a lot of american who is have strong views about trying to keep the internet open. how will you consider the public comments you receive? and how will the commission weigh the voices of millions of american who is have serious concerns about internet freedom? >> an important question, that's part of the reason we're having the public conversation. the fcc could have chosen to proceed through what's known as a declaratory ruling. saying what the previous fcc did is null and move ahead. but it was important to us to make sure we had the notice and comment process that is prescribed by the administrative procedure act. we had 90 days of public comment in addition to the three weeks before the fcc's vote to allow for that public comment. once the public comment period closes in the middle of august, august 16th, we'll take stock of the fcc's terrific staff and try to figure out whether the fcc should move ahead? and if so, how. we'll be guided by the principles of substantial
evidence, as enunciated by the d.c. circuit. by the facts in the record and by the motivation to figure out what's in the public interest at the end of the day. >> i would be interested, commissioner clyburn, in your comment on either of those two issues, net neutrality and consumer privacy. i have one last issue i want to briefly raise. >> one, i find myself wondering, who is the referee on the field and the cop on the beat when it comes to broadband internet access service, as it stands now. with the passage of the cra and with the direction we've taken, i honestly am not an attorney but i don't think anybody is directing, is monitoring the balls and strikes. from that perspective, i'm worried. i'm worried as a customer, and i'm worried for the millions of others who are. i forgot the other question, senator? >> consumer privacy and net neutrality. and how to provide some reassurance to the public that
their concerns are going to be taken seriously by the commission? >> i'm hopeful that the four-plus million comments we've heard will be taken seriously by this body. regardless of what form they came in, people took the time to weigh in their voices should be heard. we're a government agency, we're responsible for doing the will of the people. >> i'll close by just complimenting the proposed rule to reduce robo calls. as someone who is myself the victim of fairly frequent spoofing robo calls where i answer because it looks like it's a number i know. but it's not. i look forward to your work on that. it's a predatory practice and i'm glad you're working to stop it. it's my hope that together we'll address the unresolved concerns of consumer privacy protection. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, sir. >> senator langford? >> thank you. chairman pai, i appreciate all of you being here as well today. tell me a little bit about lifeline and the process you're going through right now. i know there's been a review on lifeline. to determine how to be able to
use that. there's been expansion of that over the past several years. still a concern about fraud. and want to be able to make sure that obviously taxpayer dollars are used correctly and wisely. where are you on that right now? >> thank you for the question, senator. i've been very consistent in saying that our top priority at the fcc is closing the digital divide. i think that the lifeline program is an important part of the equation. in terms of closing that divide. one of the things that we have looked at is the way to make sure that every single dollar which is after all a taxpayer dollar that is spent in the lifeline program goes to somebody that needs the help. we want to make sure that the lifeline program is directed towards needy consumers to make sure that for instance, any of the fraud in the system is investigated and rooted out. we're in the process of determining the next steps. but you can rest assured that certainly in terms of purpose. >> give me a timeline on that? because obviously if i go back a year in this same hearing or the year before that, that seemed to be a very similar rhetoric that i've heard for while on it. while there had been some advances over the past several
years what is the next step? or when is the next step on the fraud in lifeline? >> i think in the near term we've made it a priority. i've spoken with members of the staff as well as folks at the universal service diminish company which oversees this program among others on our behalf. so i can't give you specific date but i can tell you is that over the next several months we hope to be able to report to you improvements. >> so let's say by october, november, december what are we talking about? >> i can commit to that, yes. >> tell me a definition as you're walking through issues between underserved, and unserved. that seems to be the great debate on just about every program and everything that we're engaging in with any kind of subsidy. which has priority? underserved or unserved? >> they're both important to me at least it's critical to get folks who are unserved onto the other part of the ledger. it's increasingly important for folks to have internet access. whether you want to start a job,
educate your kids, so to me at least, think it's important to bring some of those 30-some million americans who are off the grid he had it comes to the digital infrastructure on. if you look at our universal service fund administration, what we've been focused on. >> the priority is shifting more towards that? or is it already there, where it's the unserved rather the underserved? >> i think it's largely there. the new york broadband initiative. we got across the finish line my first week as chairman if you look at some of the other initiatives we've done. we're consistently trying to attack the digital divide. the divide is keenest when folks simply don't have access at all. i've seen that for myself last week when i was traveling through the upper midwest. >> there's conversation about all of these areas on digital divide. you've got an issue of means testing. i know there's been questions about that. to be able to put out just a jep generic question. just because they don't have
access, doesn't mean they don't have the finances to access, they've chosen not to. where's that right now? >> i'm working with commissioner o'rielly as well as members of the staff to figure out the way forward on that initiative. it's an important idea worth considering. >> answer this question for me, i've heard come up so far in this conversation today. that fcc is leaning more towards the big corporate interests, rather than the interests of the consumer. why would that accusation sit out there, and how would you answer that? >> i respectfully disagree with that assessment. i think if you look at our track record we've been consistently making sure we have a more competitive marketplace. and if you look at some of our initiatives with respect to reform the broadband program to make sure that wireless internet service providers have the ability to deploy, our broadband deployment advisory committee. my support of the gigabyte opportunities act. each initiative is incentivizing smaller providers to enter into the marketplace and invest more
risk capital. that's something that is often difficult to convey. it's last week when i was visiting a fixed wireless provider in wisconsin. one thing i lerped is how difficult it is for them with limited budgets to be able to compete with some of the bigger folks. they're the ones that are critical to providing a more competitive marketplace and those are the ones we're going to continue to focus on. with respect to consumer initiatives, robo calling is the number one consumer complaint that people have with the fcc. as of a kurm of years ago the fcc had only issued one citation in a calendar year. we made it a top priority which is why we've taken steps to block some of those spoofed robo calls and other millions of americans. we're refocusing the agency on getting the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to consumer protection. >> when you get into enforcement, robo calls, that's a big issue, as well as the spoof calls and numbers that are not the actual number. things that they're getting authorities to it on a decency standards, it's been out there
for a while. unenforced when there are clear violations. ways that you can enforce existing law and regs that are there would be of great benefit to the consumer ace cross the country. >> part of it is that some robo calls originate from outside our country. one of the privileges is being the chairman i have a chance it meet with and work with some of my counterparts abroad, i can tell the committee i've spoken with a number of them to make sure that this is on their radar, too. it requires cooperation with some of the international counterparts to make sure we crack down on all levels of some of these robo call schemes. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator hall? >> thank you, madam chairman, ranking member coons. good to be on this committee and looking forward to discussing the issues. i know this is not the committee of jurisdiction. but we just read reports that there may be a new health care bill being unveiled, as soon as maybe friday or next week. and i would urge all of our
colleagues to urge their colleagues, to have hearings on that issue. just like we're having a hearing on this. it will affect one-sixth of our economy and hundreds of millions of our fellow americans. i think it's important to have a hearing on that. as we look at the budgets of the fcc and other federal agencies. to all the commissioners, welcome. chairman pai, i do join my colleagues, senator coons and senator leahy iningi disappointment with the overturning of the protections of the cra. in my view that action puts millions of americans, makes them more vulnerable. with respect to privacy information over the internet. and i'll also be following up in writing with questions on net neutrality. where we have very real differences and i think my colleagues expressed them well. but i have some follow-up. i was pleased to hear your
comments about expanding access to the internet. and positive comments about the lifeline program. yes, of course all of us want to make sure that nobody is abusing it. it is also true that it has helped provide broadband access to millions more americans. wouldn't you agree with that? >> yes, sir. >> thank you in and in maryland, i can tell you we have a 39% participation rate which means of those eligible, 39 are participating now, which is about 231,000 subscribers. people who would not otherwise have access to the internet. in addition to the lifeline program, what additional measures are you taking, or would you suggest that you take to expand access? to broadband throughout the country to every neighborhood, both urban, suburban and rural? >> that's a great question, senator, and it's a challenge.
obviously given the geographic dispersion of our population and terrain challenges. and i'm committed that now is the time to close the digital divide. given maryland diversity, it's increasingly important for folks in your state and around the country to get that access. i'm committed to using every tool in the fcc's toolbox to address it. that means number one making sure that we wisely spend the universal service funds under our administration. to direct them to unserved parts of the country. number two, making sure we modernize our regulations to incentivize the deployment of next-generation networks. everything from working with state and local governments, to adopt broadband-friendly policies. to making sure that smaller competitors can get access. it might not be exciting, but this is one of the biggest cost elements to deploying networks. other piece of it which is discretionary, is the fcc shining a spotlight on the
importance of this issue and working with this body. last september i proposed the concept of giga bit opportunities. i've villages, there are far too many folks on the wrong side of the digital divide there isn't a business case for building in some of these areas. companies see there's not a return on the investment. i'm committed not so much as a regulator, but as an american to make sure they get on the right side of that divide so we propose this idea, there are a lot of ways that congress could advance this, through the infrastructure plan if there is one, to direct some of those federal funds to the fcc for broadband deployment. it's an important issue and i would love to work with you and any members of the subcommittee interested in the solving the problem. >> thank you, and commissioner c clyburn, i noted that you recently finished your tour, the bridging opportunities. what are your thoughts on this?
is this an area where we can do more? is this an area where congressional action would be helpful? >> yes, yes, and yes. one of the things that's the biggest driver that the biggest cost causer in terms of distress is in health. if you fall into a place where health is a challenge, that's usually the number one reason for bankruptcies. but if you have a connected community, if you have people who are able to communicate with their health care professionals in a telemedicine or telehealth in that paradigm? if we can get that affordably lifeline tlurks, through satellite, through ngs, a geostational, whatever it's called. in terms of satellite if we could do all of those in terms of the infrastructure, as well as through programs that are means tested, lifeline, targeted, we can really solve
many of our critical problems. so then the answer is yes, no matter what the discipline new york city matter what if it's health, education and life. connectivity is key. and we have to really use all of tools in our arsenal, our regulatory arsenal to encourage innovation and investment and opportunities. >> thank you, and look, i -- madam chair, i look forward to working with you and members of the committee and commissioners on some of the suggestions that were made on this issue. thank you. >> senator moran? >> thank you very much. congratulations on becoming the chairperson of this subcommittee. i know of your continual efforts in regard to broadband deployment in west virginia and obviously we care about kansas and arkansas and connecticut. and i look forward to working with you and senator coons to make sure that broadband is deploy deployed. >> mr. van hollen talked about all across the country. i saw an article where rural
america is now what used to be the problems of urban, suburban, urban, the core city centers, is now spread to rural america based upon the statistics. and we're all looking for hope and this is technology and telecommunications is one of the areas in which i think we can provide hope for parts of the country that all of us care so deeply about. i want to take a moment commissioner o'rielly, and commissioner clyburn and chairman pai, you are three commissioners i've very much appreciated working with without exception. we've had in my view a good relationship of significant response. and i look forward to that relationship continuing. there was contention commissioner clyburn, in past commissions. and i'm not here to debate the how well you all got along. but i know from time to time commissioner, you are opposed to some of the decisions that the
commission is currently making. but i would hope that you would assure me that you feel that your voice is being heard and that you have opportunity to participate in the process. that sometimes seem missing in a past commission. >> most of the time i feel that way, sir. >> that's a good solid answer. i would encourage the chairman and the commission to work closely together. none of this stuff is easy. but voices need to be heard and results, commissioner o'rielly? >> i was going to say i admittedly am biased on this topic, i must admit. in fairness, i think the chairman has done a wonderful job of setting a new tone for the commission. there's a breath of fresh air. even if we disagree, we move on to the next issue and try to work together. kudos to the chairman. >> appreciate hearing that. the nature of the conversations we heard in this subcommittee and the commerce committee over the past several years in my view, there's an opportunity for that to be improved.
and i just encourage you all to take advantage of that. >> senator, i would like to also give credit to my fine southern upbringing for that. >> since you put it that way, commissioner, what i was trying to do is make sure that chairman pai is behaving as a kansan should if not, we've talk to his mom and dad. >> chairman perhaps the place to start with you is with you on repack. the we're looking for a smooth and orderly process. i want to be certain that no broadcaster is forced to go dark through no fault of their own. we've had this conversation numerous times with all of you. i assume that your commitment to remains to work with us to insure that adequate resources are provided to these impacted broadcasters. i assume that's the case, yes? >> yes, sir. >> if as expected the amount of
money congress set aside, the $1.75 billion currently authorized to pay these moves of broadcasters, is insufficient, how will the fcc go about reimbursing broadcasters for covered costs on their moves? ifst going to be a pro rata circumstance in which you meter out payments for everyone? will you pay in full those who moved first? is there some other method by which you can fairly treat the circumstances that you find yourself in with, that amount of money? >> thank you for the question, senator. so we're in the early stages at this point. we're still waiting to receive cost estimates from the broadcasters. those estimates we estimate will come to the commission by july 12th. at that time the staff will look at all the estimates a that have come in, determine which of those costs are reasonable and aggregate them to figure out what's the number that will be required. if the number is greater than $1.75 billion. you have my personal commitment that i'll come immediately to congress to let you know. so congress can make the
appropriate decision. as to what the fcc would do at that point, we haven't yet determined. but hopefully we'll be able to work with you cooperatively on that topic. >> well i worry about the slowness of congress. so if you come to us and there's a shortfall in the amount of money, how long will it take for to us respond and what our response will be, i would encourage the commission to be prepared to figure out how they treat broadcasters in that circumstance. which i think in can help us perhaps if that occurs, help us move our process along as well. >> absolutely. one of the core planks of the incentive auction for many years is insure that broadcasters are treated fairly and consistently within the spectrum. one part of that is not having to go out of pocket for expenses reasonably incurred as a result of the incentive auction repack. i look forward to working with the you and members of the subcommittee on that. >> we've had a lot of concern for rural and small broadcasters, where the demand for movement will occur probably early in the larger broadcast
areas. and want to make sure that i know i see your finger, that, that didn't sound good. we want to make sure that those are not left behind in the process. >> absolutely so we've spaced out the repack over ten different phases, we've taken different steps to make sure that broadcasters are aided in cases where circumstances beyond their control have impacted their ability to repack smoothly. so for example a six-month extension of their construction permit in situations like that. so we're taking steps to make sure that broadcasters like that again are treated fairly and consistently with the law. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, i'd like to first of all wish my fellow west virginian, a happy west virginia day, 1863, our state was formed. now i would like to call on senator manchin. >> i would like to wish my wife a happy birthday, because it's on west virginia day, also. it helps me remember both of
them. >> my state had one of the lowest rates of brand service in the nation when the fcc voted to modernize its universal service program in 2011 and in 2016 that's where we remain, still the lowest. significant gaps in mobile broadband coverage still exist in west virginia. inaccurate data has failed rural and remote areas ak across this country. inaccurate data has caused us to be left behind. to address this program members introduced the rural wireless service act of 2017. legislation would standardize the way fcc collects data to present an accurate picture of the real-world coverage experience available to consumers. fcc's website notes its current mobile coverage data has certain limitations that likely result in an overstatement of coverage.
we cannot afford to leave rural america behind. and we're very concerned about this. so i guess what steps are you currently taking, chairman, in order to address this? >> thanks for the question, senator this is something i take seriously, having been to west virginia and seen on my own phone how you can't get a signal in places that are -- >> you have been there, haven't you? >> i have. some desperate situations. it is very hard and especially when you have an area where i was, it was hit by a flood and people are calling 911, i visited the 911 call center and talked to the director about how hard it was to make sure that people were safe in circumstances where connectivity can't be a given and so we want to change that equation. part of changing it is making sure that our data is accurate. i'm aware that the national broadband map has been has not been updated for several years. we want to make sure we use accurate that's accurate. and what i can say is we're working with staff at the fcc to
make sure that we have the right inputs so that the output in terms of policy is the right one for west virginia. and i dare say, for the country. >> anybody else have any comments on that? >> i agree. that form 477 process needs to be improved. we need more granular data. we need the staff to do so we need to make sure, especially going forward with the mobility fund phase 2 and the other auctions that we have a challenge process. that all companies, no matter size or scope, that they could weigh in and -- >> i hope would you look at the topography of our state, too. it's not kansas, okay? kansas might be rural, but it's flat. we're not. so our challenges are much more compounded than any other state because of the terrain we're have, we're beautiful, but we have challenges that come with that beauty. >> i'm aware of the beauty and the depth. >> another component universal service program will be the remote areas fund.
i'm encouraged by the commission which you all have recently information to move forward with this remote areas fund no later than a year after the connect america fund reverse auction there are almost 13,000 locations in west virginia alone in rural areas that are eligible for this remote areas fund support. many of these communities still lack access to a single vinyl broadband option where there's no business case for a provider to serve without our support. the market is not large enough to attract them. i believe the remote areas fund must be targeted to meet these areas. >> i appreciate the question, senator. this has been a difficult issue for me, it's something that i worked on as soon as i got to the commission. these are the hardest of hard places to serve and they've been put at the bottom of the list in terms of priority. everything else has to be taken care of before we get to that. and the chairman has graciously increased the timeline. i'm not confident at this moment that by the time my term expires
we'll have finished. >> when you look at appalachian, when you want a war on poverty, you get people connected and they get a chance to survive. last week we introduced legislation to include the government accountability service report on the national broadband map. the commission has not meaningfully updated the map since it inherited it from the federal communications commission. the gao report would look at whether the national broadband map reflects the broadband coverage currently available across the country. i guess chairman pai how do we work together? how much effort, how much money are you putting towards revitalizing this? >> it's a priority for us, we're looking at the options for updating. >> do you have the resources? >> i believe we do, senator. >> people dedicated towards it? >> we do, yes. >> do they know the urgency. we're going to be in a stale mate if we can't get connected. i think that senator caputo and
i both, we both understand being around our state, you know, when i was governor, we had less than 50% of the people connected. think we're up to about 85. we have every school and every ruralor, we have a school post office or a public building that's connected today. we don't have the market to drive the market forces out. that's what we're just dead in the water. >> you have my personal commitment, senator. just last week i drove over 1600 miles from milwaukee, wisconsin to casper, wyoming, visited everything from a sioux reservation in south dakota to a farmtown named spencer, iowa, i saw how difficult it is in some places to make sure that people have digital opportunity. it's a top priority for me zmxt well mr. o'rielly said it's been on the bottom of the priority list for so, so long. so i hope you're all committed to putting it at the top of your priority. >> yes. >> thank you. >> senator bozeman. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you all of you for being here and we do thank you for
your willingness to serve. we know you're working very verks hard for the best interests of the country. my questions really had to do with rural broadband. i think they've been covered very well. and it's interesting, the committee is made up of a lot of rural areas. and as you can see from the questions that you know, probably the majority of the questions you've been asked today. has to do with that. so it's so very important. one of the things that's been talked a lot about and really, in the past good bipartisan support and i think it has the opportunity of good bipartisan support, is as an infrastructure package. and we talk in terms of you know, railroads, and runways and roads, the three r's, but we don't talk about the infrastructure in terms of broadband so you can have all of those things in place. and if you aren't connected, as
members have been talking about stories and you all have related stories, it simply doesn't work. i guess what i'd like to know, commissioner pai and the rest of you guys could chime in, also. but i hope that we have a firm commitment from you all in the sense of wanting to weigh in, be part of the infrastructure package in the sense of giving good advice. so that we can include not just the three r's, but have broadband in any package that comes forward. >> senator, absolutely. obviously we defer to the elected branches of government. but back in march, i said to the extent that congress is considering an infrastructure package, i would hope that the digital infrastructure that broadband is a part of that. it's increasingly important for all walks of american life from agriculture to health care, too many american who is don't have it. i'm certainly committed to working. >> i would agree, we make the decision, okay? but where you can be helpful is just giving good information. in the sense of that's really
what it's all about. and i'll tell you, unless you, you know, most of us have the opportunity to be all over our states, and we're in the hinterlands. and it does get very, very difficult. commissioner o'rielly. >> i was going to make two points. one is that if the decision is made in terms of infrastructure, i hope you look at the commission's high cost fund for purposes of where the dollars are spent, rather than creating a new program or using nka's program which has had past experience and been difficult at being pleasant. think that's something that we have demand for that we can't meet with our current dollars that would be, could be filled in with added dollars. and two would be if you look at authority in terms of the commission's authority overall to push back on some of the barriers to deployment that have been posed by state, local, and tribal governments. we want to be respectful of them as the chairman highlights, i've been working on this for 25 years and some of these are the same problems we had in 1995.
>> can you give a couple of examples regarding that? >> to two parts that dominate. one is the cost and the second is the approval process. i was just in new orleans -- >> that's what i'm saying in pushing back in state travel. >> what specifically do we need to -- >> it is, we have some authority and i think it's extensive authority. but i think it will be added if congress were to amplify those points to make clear that we want broadband deployed. there's some things that are banned by localities and states, such as rf exposure and esthetices that keep coming back. the fact that moratorium are still happening in the united states, even though they're prohibited in some regards, we have to constantly fight over what the language is and if congress can clarify that, it will be very helpful. >> i think from where i sit, senator is we need to make sure that our house is in order and what i mean by that is when we approve and consider and look
and evaluate different technologies, we need to make sure they're appropriate for the surroundings sofy live on top of the mountain, which i don't and won't, stringing fiber to me might not be the best way to connect me. so we've got satellite, we've got ngso's, we've got tv wide space stations, we have other things we need to make sure are on par to have a chance to be approved and green-lit by this agency. so it's everything, what everybody said and the things we haven't thought about that you will help us with. >> thank you, mr. madam chairman. >> senator danes? >> chairman caputo, ranking member coons, thank you very much and congratulations, senator caputo, it's an honor to call you chairwoman caputo. >> thank you. >> i want to thank the chairman and commissioners for coming out today to testify. as the commission is well aware, montana is a rural state. there's a rural tone to today's
hearing. and when you're from an urban area, you can take connectivity for granted. we do not take connectivity for granted in a rural state like montana. i look at some maps that the commission has put out, you see gaping holes across the west. this is not only a barrier for businesses, for individuals, it's been talked about as a public safety issue. and as commissioner clyburn stated, the maps don't even reflect the actual coverage in many areas. i spent a lot of time, i pick up tens of thousands of miles driving around montana in montana we don't measure times in terms of oil changes, it's tire changes, around the state. we see areas where it's, there's no cell coverage, let alone lte coverage so very much look forward to working with each of you as we continue to close that gap. chairman pai, the commission recently completed incentive auction, working on the repack and move broadcasters to new
channels and wireless companies in the spectrum that they purchased. in montana, this auction is important step forward in expanding broadband into a rural and particularly tribal communities. however, we must take and make sure we balance the rights of wireless companies to have access to the spectrum that they won outright, with the real needs of broadcasters. who have to vacate that same spectrum. mr. chairman, can you promise and commit to work with all of those affected by the incentive auction and with congress, if needed, to make sure this transition will go as smoothly as possible? >> yes, senator, i will. >> now feel like given the marriage vows here or something. >> sorry, felt like it was sunday morning here, i will. by the grace of god, commissioner o'rielly, another issue we have seen in montana is
inhibiting the expansion of broadband is spectrum squatting. some companies are buying up spectrum and not deploying it in the areas that desperately need it but instead sitting on it and selling it later at a much higher price. what enforcement hackses, including tightening the rules can the fcc take to make sure that spectrum is used practically and efficiently and not placed on a shelf awaiting maturity? >> in fairness, most wireless companies expedite the deployment of wireless frequencies as soon as possible because they need them for the advancement of their networks. we can tighten our build-out requirements, the timing and the percentages needed to comply it make sure that they maintain their license. that's something that i've looked at and make sure we can do that going forward. think it's something we can tighten on going forward. >> it's been an issue for us out
west. for chairman pai, and commissioner clyburn, i've been impressed by the ways that tv white spaces can be used to better serve rural communities. including using in education, public safety, rural health. how do you see the use of tv white spaces being utilized to get broadband access to hard-to-reach areas which is certainly lacking today? i'll start with commissioner clyburn. >> i'll be quick and say it's more affordable. it allows for a more entry by smaller providers and some of the existing providers to do things at a less expensive cost. to me to be able to get rid of the burdens and the hurdles have mostly been economic. and if you can have another way that would be not legacy, to get to connecting communities and i think it's a positive. to me the underlying benefit is
cost entry lowered tremendously. >> for the rural communities that have very, very small budgets and they're struggling on revenue. >> to make the business case. >> we don't need the coverage beyond what the white space can deliver. enter chairman? >> i think commissioner clyburn captured well the gist of what's at stake. i'll add that i had the chance to talk to for myself with a number of the folks who were interested in on this issue and so we're actively working on it at the moment. >> commissioner o'rielly this is my last question, one of the main goals of the commission is to protect consumers. in montana we've seen an onslaught of these spoofed phone numbers in scammers using our area code for the entire state is 406. and they lure folks into a sense of false security because they see a 406, kind of the hometown area code will pop up. they think it's somebody perhaps that's okay. scammers are getting better and better and i think it's our responsibility to move at a fast pace to keep up with them. can you outline some of the
recent actions the fcc has taken to combatting spoofing robo calls. >> i don't want to be dismissive of your question, it's very important. but it's something that we're actually going to address in two days. we have an item before us, that i think the chairman has graciously put forward. i think will address some of this. i want to be careful in terms of spoofing, there's the ability to get a number that is local. even though you're outside the area. for purposes of voip. but in terms of trying to commit fraud or harm the consumer, that could be universal. there's finite universes and definitions. i like to be careful and say a legal robo call. because a robo call in itself can have benefits. there's fine lines, but your question is important. i don't mean to be dismissive. >> in twois two days, what's going to happen in two days? a hearing or a meeting? >> you're addressing the issue in that meeting? >> that's our intent. >> yes, i'm not sure if i'm
allowed to reveal any more information. >> all right. >> but i can say if i might, that we have already taken some steps to address this issue. for instance a couple of months ago we allowed some of the carriers to block spoofed calls. that are clearly from unassigned numbers. numbers that are not assigned to any person in the united states. we want to explore the idea of allowing consumers to say to their phone company -- do not carry any call that is not from me. sort of like a do not originate call to mirror the do not call list. additionally, longer-term we're working with talented engineers and technologists, on call identification. to make sure that the person who is calling is that person. if you get a call from the senator, it's not me trying to pitch you on the beauty of wilmington, it's actually the senator calling you. it seems like a very simple thing, but in the challenge world that we're in, it's very
difficult. >> we need to move faster than the bad guys, thank you. i have one additional question and then i think senator coons has a question or two. so i'd like to begin first of all, with thanking all of you for being here and i want to thank the chairman for the transparency initiatives that you've put forward. i think that's, you're getting into some controversial areas and i think the more transparent you can be, the better. i'm glad that you've made moves in that direction and i would encourage more. my last question really is commissioner o'rielly on the c.a.c. 2 fund something the relatively new to the unserved and underserved. '17 it started, or '16? >> our decisions? >> no, the money going for the six years, an the c.a.f. 2. >> yeah. >> the rate of return for we did in '16, the original c.a.f.s. and cafes hopefully late they
are year. >> right. i'm wondering, do you have any data as to whether -- what i'm concerned about is for instance, in our state, $38 million a year additional for our state for underserved and unserved areas. i just, we've heard a lot of concern and deep concerns about the mapping and the accuracy of the data we know anecdotally, as we walk around, it sounds like all we do when we go home is go to the grocery store but maybe that is what we do. you're always getting aapproached at the grocery store. i can't get internet, my daughter can't do her homework and then you go back to the carrier and it's like, we serve that area. when in actuality it's underserved or unserved. i guess are you seeing, i mean what kind of accountability are we going to have that when you spend all this money and we spend all this money, that we're really going to get the results that we desire? >> first, i think that the
question was raised earlier in terms of underserved or unserved. i think unserved has been the commission's focus and has to be. those that don't have service, think is the main priority of the commission. in terms of the will continue to be. in terms of the dollars we're better to pinpoint the dollars in how they're spent and make sure they go to those that actually need it. the 77 data that we'll improve hopefully soon will improve that. right now it is done in a broader sense and it is best to pinpoint that going forward. >> yes. it's the phase 2 money that i was referring to. senator coons. >> thank you. on media ownership rules, your current rules limit any broadcaster from reaching more than 39% of the country to ensure independence, variety and the local voices and minority voices, and if i understand correctly, it is looking to reinstate the uhf discount which
some would argue unwinds these requirements and you're considering sinclair and tribune which could create a massive broadcast group with access to three-quarters of all dwarfing competitive media owners. do you believe the 39% limit should still be in place as a barrier to over concentration in the market and what factors will you be looking at media ownership going forward. and i have another question. >> thank you for the question. at this point it's very preliminary, so -- it was that we couldn't repeal the discount with that also considering whether any adjustments to the national cap were necessary. so we haven't made any determinations about what that number should be and our point would be simply that the administrative/legal one, so as one goes so goes the other and we have to consider the national cap and we don't have a timeframe for considering that, and we haven't received papers
with the transaction, so i can't talk to how the rules would affect the consideration of that. >> in reference to my opening question -- i didn't hear clarity about sort of what the plan is or what offices or functions might be reduced and i'm concerned about whether the regular day to day functioning of the agency that's supposed to continue moving forward on things maybe aren't big national policy issue, but need to get moved forward in order for carriers to have predictability with processes that they're involved in, whether they'll continue or whether you expect significant disruptions and overall expenditures. >> critical question, senator. i'm confident we won't experience any negative impact like that on our core problematic responsibilities. i recently met with the fcc team that handles e-rate appeals and
these are schools across the country looking for e-rate funding for whatever the reason they've been sucked into the appeals process and they've been around for almost 20 years and we needed more resources on that team to handle some of those arc peels and to prioritize lasting ones and the most difficult ones. i met with them obviously to thank them for their hard work and to hear from them from the challenges and these are tricky cases and at the end of the day the message i left with them is you will get the resources you need. these are institutions that are critical to american society and we need to make sure we give you an answer, the applicants an answer in a more timely way. in areas like that we will make sure that we meet those core responsibilities in a way that makes congress proud and deliver value to the american taxpayers. >> can i invite the two other two commissioners and you made it around universal service fund. i would also welcome hearing that as well as long-term staffing. >> i will add t that i support
what the chairman just put forth. i will just say using the boon example, when you squeeze a balloon one place the air goes to another, and that's not necessarily always positive meaning that resources or individuals are taken from somewhere else and that could possibly slow down efficiencies in other places. i agree and it is the chairman's job to be efficient and direct appropriately, but continual -- you know what our situation is and you know what we're faced with and we are asked to do more increasingly with less, and it's -- i am positive that there's going to come a time when we're going to have diminishing margin returns and i think that time is quickly approaching. >> i would only add to that that when we all talked about the conversation about rural broadband. most of those decisions and most of the hard work are done by wireless competition -- or the wire line competition bureau and the good folks working on the
high cost program, and i've been working with them for many years now, and quite frankly, a number of items have to be stacked up and that doesn't mean we can't allocate it from elsewhere. it doesn't mean that we can't do do what the chairman has put forward, and i think we can do both and we can improve our efficiency, i would suggest they can use additional resources in one particular part of our agency. >> commissioners chairman. thank you. >> chairwoman, thank you for your graciousness and i appreciate your dedication to continuing to move forward and to execute the mission of the agency. thank you. >> thank you, senator coops and thank all of you again, particularly our witnesses for their testimony today. if there are no further questions the hearing record will reconvene at 2:30 for subcommittee members to submit questions for the record. the subcommittee hearing is adjourned. thank you all.